ROCKINGHAM, Vermont – The 116th annual pilgrimage to Rockingham Meeting House will take place on Sunday, August 7, beginning with food and a gathering at 11:30 a.m.
This year’s lecture and slide presentation at 1 p.m. will be “I Could Hardly Keep from Laughing,” by Bill Mares. He co-wrote the book of the same title with Don Hooper. Copies will be available for sale.
The new book draws on the works of more than a dozen Vermont comedians, detailing the evolution of humor in Green Mountain State over the years. It features new cartoons by Hooper and a foreword by award-winning political cartoonist Jeff Danziger.
Raised in Texas and trained at Harvard, Mares has served as a journalist, state legislator and high school teacher. He has authored or co-authored 18 books on a variety of topics, including U.S. Marines and beekeeping, from workplace democracy to Vermont humor.
He has been a beekeeper for 50 years and co-founded a brewery in Vermont. He sits on the boards of VT Digger, the Vermont Brewers Association and Food4Farmers.
He lives in Burlington with his wife of 50 years, Chris Hadsel. They have two sons.
Refreshments will be available before the pilgrimage, so plan to arrive early, stroll through the cemetery, and enjoy light snacks. There is plenty of room in the building for social distancing, and masks are requested if you are not vaccinated.
Built in 1787, the building has been used for town and church events. Church services ceased in 1839; and by 1839 it was no longer used by the city for official gatherings.
The building was restored in 1906 and is currently undergoing another major renovation to repair the plaster.
Designated a historic monument in 2000, it is open all season for tours and special events such as weddings and concerts.
Traditionally, the pilgrimage is the final event of Rockingham Old Home Days and is held in commemoration of the first pilgrimage to the building after its restoration. With the exception of 2020 and the Covid pandemic, the pilgrimage has taken place every year.